Day 17: Layover Day at Lower Whitmore Wash
March 21, 2014
[This may appear out of sequence. It will be posted with day 11 from my computer on the trip and Pam and Kammy Wolfson took days 12 through 16 handwritten out and will be transcribing them and posting them when they get back to Meadview. The alternator and generator that were brought in to charge the car batteries are not working well, and my 3 solar batteries and solar panels are working well, but since we leave most beaches before the sun hits them and land on most beaches after the sun sets, getting these into digital mode has proved to be a bit problematic.]
When we got into Lower Whitmore Wash last night, we pulled into a small beach and brought all the rafts in and tied them together and tight to the shore, which had a lot of rocks on it that were too big to move. There was not enough room to bring all the wooden boats in, so the Portola and Susie Too were nestled in between two rafts and tied off from their bows, and also roped to both oarlocks that will keep them straight and not moving into other boats as the water surged from side to side with the waves coming off this small, fast rapid. To unload, we bring the Portola and Susie Too in turn onto the small beach and throw out the stuff we think we will need, but while they are tied to the rafts we still have to make trips to and from the wood boats for what we have forgotten. That involves walking out onto the far end of the raft, balancing, and then stepping onto the bow deck and staying low while both are moving so you don’t fall in. The water is only 18 inches deep and there is a sand bottom, but a fall from three feet up could mean a broken leg or a bad scrape. Tony does stumble and does fall getting from the Portola to a raft getting a couple of gashes on his right leg. We have a number of people with wilderness medical training and experience along on the trip, so he is soon in a lounge chair while everyone confers over what to do and gets the scrapes cleaned up and bandaged. (I am actually writing this blog two days later and Izzy is re-bandaging the wounds and they are doing fine with no sign of infection.)
We are expecting Arnie Richards to be at the top of the Whitmore Wash Trail with Ian and Sandy Elliot, who are joining the trip tomorrow, and Pam and Kammy Wolfson who are hiking in to visit. We see flashlight waving on the top of the rim and wave some back so each knows that the other was seen. Our 17th day is going to be spent getting up late, recovering from the Alive Below Lava Celebrations, eating a big breakfast, cleaning clothes, shampooing hair, hiking, reading, and just enjoying the heat; the shade of the two shade structures we put up as the day goes warmer and just relaxing.
CeCe and Stef are leaving the trip here on day 18 to head to other engagements. Stef will fly to Iceland on Sunday from Las Vegas to work for 6-8 weeks at a heli-skiing operation that he worked for 6 years ago. He is looking forward to heading out, but sad to leave the Susie Too since she has given him a lot of fun rowing her. He confides that he had a dream several years ago about rowing a dory in the Grand Canyon and she surpassed all his expectations of how much fun it was. CeCe is heading back to Canada for a week of guiding and then her senior guide examination in the Canadian system that she has been preparing for for a long time. A mentor has arranged for her to work at the resort where the examination will be given for the week before. She flies out on Monday. They both take a load of gear up the Whitmore Wash trail to leave in Arnie Richards’ car at the top, and then hike back in with backpacks full of fresh food for the next three days: We have fresh porkchops, which we cook over the barbecue, and a salad bar, and in the middle of the day the surprise of frozen ice cream (Strawberry Ripple and Cookies And Cream – both so hard from the dry ice it was packed in that all of us had to wait for it to thaw so it could be cut out of the carton… but OH SO good!).
Arnie has brought in a ukulele and the words to the Gilbert and Sullivan song “Now I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navy” that Martin Litton sang on the 1963 trip in fine voice and to much cheering. We sing it, laughingly in tribute to a fine man, great conservationist, and the one who has done more to keep the dories similar to what we have built and are rowing on the Colorado and other rivers in the West. The ghosts of those who built the originals and the spirits of all who have loved dories ride with us on this trip and are frequently mentioned and memorialized in stories and conversations both within our group and with the other private trips that we share the river with.
Dinner tonight is both pork chops and beef brisket, which I have been roasting in the Dutch ovens for 7 hours, mashed potatoes, broccoli, salad, cheddar soup, and chocolate-covered cookies. We all are stuffed and sit up visiting with everyone later than we normally do. The half moon comes up late and we head to bed.
After taking the group shot, Cece, Stefane, and I headed up the trail to the inner gorge rim. We found a note on my windshield from Pam and Kammy saying that they felt so good when they got there, that they jumped in their jeep and took off. Good thing they did, too, because they would have had to wait for two hours if they had waited for us to show up. Cece, Stef, and I had a nice easy drive to Kanab, where we let Cece off. Then I took Stef to Vegas for his flight to Iceland. Great weekend, guys. It was wonderful to see you all and spend a night on the river with you. Good luck with the rest of the trip. Watch the hole in Mile 209, and beware of Killer Fang Falls!
Been following the trip, but day 17 is the last day I’ve seen. Heard from son Robb when you guys got done and he started home — but I would love to see the rest of the blog posts — are there more, or do they stop with day 17? please send me a link if there is one, and I’d love to see pictures too once they are available. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip! Hats off to you all!